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Monday, April 10, 2017

The Kilsyth Cobra Men stumbled during their weekend doubleheader, falling just short of pulling off a dramatic comeback on Friday night, before dropping their home opener to Ballarat in a Saturday night thriller.

Facing Nunawading on Friday night, a nightmare start by the Cobras proved too much to overcome, losing to the Spectres, 73-84.

Led by the red-hot shooting of Tom Wright - who caught fire for 16 first quarter points - Nunawading raced out of the gates to take a 27-12 lead after 10 minutes of play. It was much of the same in the second period, with the Spectres continuing to fire away from deep as Kilsyth struggled from the field to trail by 26 points heading into halftime. Nunawading went 8-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first half, while Kilsyth couldn’t buy a basket from deep, connecting on just one of their 14 attempts from downtown.

The Cobras would come roaring back, though, reeling off a 29-10 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to cut the Spectre lead to 75-67 with just over four minutes remaining. But three straight turnovers would seal the Cobras fate, as Nunawading pulled away late to hand Kilsyth its second road loss of the season.

Chris Patton led the Cobras with 19 points, Auryn Macmillan added a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double, and Owen Odigie chipped in with 12 points in the loss.

After a gruelling road trip to start the season, the Cobras made their much anticipated home debut on Saturday, but on the second night of a back-to-back, Justin Schueller’s Men ran out of gas late to lose a thriller to Ballarat, 63-69.

Playing catch-up the entire evening, Kilsyth took its first lead of the game with just over three minutes remaining in spectacular fashion. Auryn Macmillan dove to the floor to out hustle two Miners players to collect a loose ball, then dished to Alex Vanrenen who finished through contact inside to convert a difficult three-point play, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.

Ballarat would respond with a 7-0 run, though, with Peter Hooley converting a tough three-point play of his own to put the Miners back ahead, 66-60, with under two minutes remaining. Out of a timeout, Nelson Kirksey responded with yet another and-one finish inside to trim the Cobras deficit to three points, but a nightmare span of offensive possessions would follow to seal Kilsyth’s fate.

After Kirksey’s score, he picked off an errant Miners pass, but Patton was called for an offensive foul as he attempted to convert the turnover in transition. Both teams then traded empty possessions, before Odigie forced a big turnover, giving Kilsyth a chance to tie the game.

But on the ensuing inbounds, Tariq Naqqash was called for a questionable travelling violation to hand the ball back to Ballarat, and after another stop, Naqqash turned the ball over again on a miscommunication with Macmillan to end the Cobras hopes of winning their home opener.

Thought they hung tough right until the final buzzer sounded, the Cobras appeared affected by fatigue in crunch time as they played their second game in 24 hours. Kilsyth turned the ball over nine times in the final period of Saturday night’s game and again struggled from downtown, going just 3-for-15 from three-point range.

Kirksey had his best game in a Cobras uniform, scoring a game-high 20 points, Patton added 16 points and seven rebounds, and back-up point guard David Schaffert proved to be a terrific spark off the bench,  scoring a season-high 11 points in 15 minutes.

The Cobras will enjoy the Easter weekend off, with their next game set for April 22 at home as they get set for a rematch with Nunawading. The Cobras-Spectres showdown is also our Junior Domestic Night, with all Junior Domestic players who wear their team gear receiving FREE ENTRY to both the Men’s and Women’s games.